The Minister for Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah has called for calm among all stakeholders, especially, workers of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), working at the Tema port, as there will be no job losses following the take-off of Terminal Three operations by Meridian Port Services (MPS).
There has been hue and cry over Ghana’s contract with MPS to operate at the nation’s premier port.
Persons familiar with the contract say it will not inure to the benefit of Ghana since there will be massive job losses as well as revenue loss.
Interpretation of the deal
The interpretation of some aspects of the clauses of the agreement which was signed in 2015 to the public has irked the anger of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) Workers led by the Maritime and Dock Workers Union (MDU) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) who have lined up series of protests against the deal.
One of such protests, was to be embarked on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 but was later cancelled following the exposé of a top GPHA management member who was captured on tape soliciting the support of some journalists to blow up some aspects of the contract to pitch the public against the government, ostensibly, to abrogate the deal.
“If you put all the revenue together, it is going to be about US$74million per annum that GPHA is going to lose from 2020. From 2019, the contract will just be half in its operations so the revenue loss will be half. If you take this US$74million which we are earning today, which we are going to lose fully from 2020, it’s only natural to say that if I’m now going to lose so much, then I’ll cut my cost. You have to cut your cost to be able adjust to that loss. And to cut the cost, you need to cut all your operating cost and the being a public entity as we are, labour cost is the highest of our operations close to 35-40%. So, if you touch all other revenues – cost centers and leave the labour cost, you won’t get the effect. So, it is in the process of trying to cut labour to be able to fill the gap of the US$74million in addition to the 485 who are directly to be affected and at least 1,300 will have to join. And this 1,300 will affect Tema and Takoradi. Why because Takoradi traditionally exports manganese and bauxite and it doesn’t attract much money”, the top GPHA management member of GHPA is heard on the audio recordings.
More revenue for the state
However, the Transport Minister, interacting with Accra-based Oman FM, Thursday evening, assured that not a single job will be lost when the operations of MPS takes off on Friday, June 28, 2019.
He further revealed in a statement he issued on Friday, June 28, 2019, of the President’s pledge to ensure that there are no job losses in GPHA as a result of the MPS Concession Agreement.
On the issue of revenue loss, Hon. Asiamah further assured that the deal in itself is to ensure that government rakes in more revenue, dismissing claims that the GPHA, a government agency, stands to lose UU$74million per annum for 35 years beginning 2020.
“If the country stands to lose US$74million per annum, then why did we enter into that agreement in the first place?” he quizzed.
He said unlike before where lack of available space resulted in the scattering of containers which brought revenue loss to the state, such will be a thing of the past with the operations of Terminal Three by MPS.
“Now there is going to more space to accommodate as many containers that may come in and this means that more revenue is going to be accrued for the state”, he explained.
Government in 2015 negotiated the 35 years contract with the MPS for the development and operationalization of a multipurpose container terminal at the Tema Port to create a deeper vessel capacity with an accompanying container storage facility as parts of efforts to position Ghana’s ports as a hub within the West African sub-region.